A big dispute is brewing over a tiny plot of land in Orangeburg, where a Confederate battle flag is flying near an ice cream parlor.
The land – just three-thousandths of an acre – and its flagpole belong to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a nonpolitical organization dedicated to honoring the memory of ancestors who served in the Civil War.
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It’s what’s next door that’s causing the problem, however.
Their flag flies just feet away from a sign for the Edisto River Creamery, prompting motorists on the well-traveled John C. Calhoun Drive to assume new owner, Tommy Daras, is behind the flag, reports Fox News 8.
He’s not just losing business over it. He’s also facing threats from both sides of the debate, including an ongoing social media debate that has referred to him as a “coward” and “ignorant.”
Daras wants the flag moved. He’s hired a lawyer and even filed a zoning appeal to no avail, media outlets have reported.
“That flag needs to be moved and if there’s any possible way that I can do it, it’s going to be done,” Daras told Fox News 8. “Right now, we’re gridlocked.”
A quirky bit of history is responsible for that gridlock.
Daras opened the ice cream shop this year in a former Piggie Park Maurice’s BBQ, reported the Times and Democrat newspaper. Piggie Park is well known in South Carolina for great barbeque. But it is equally famous for having been owned by the late Maurice Bessinger, an outspoken backer of the Confederate flag’s presence in the state.
Before his death, Bessinger deeded a tiny portion of land in front of the restaurant to Rivers Bridge Camp No. 842 Sons of the Confederate Veterans, reports the Times and Democrat. And that spot is where the flag is entrenched, along with a historical marker.
Fox News this week quoted Daras’ attorney as saying the ownership of the spot is in question. The attorney says the land deal records show no exception for the property that the association bought from Bessinger.
That means the matter could end up in court, some are predicting.
The SCV has declined to give interviews on the subject, other than to acknowledge in an email to the Times and Democrat that it does have a deed to the site.
A website for the Rivers Bridge Camp has a statement condemning the same hate groups that often use the rebel flag: “The Sons of Confederate Veterans is not a hate group,” the statement reads. “The South Carolina Division SCV does not knowingly allow anyone with ties to hate groups to join and has removed, and will remove, anyone from its ranks who expresses racist sentiments.”